Skype fights back: Meet Now videoconferencing is available!

Zoom was already dominating the scene a little too much. Then came the unexpected rise of Houseparty.  Online videoconferencing is more popular than ever, with half the inhabitants of the planet in lock-down and quarantined at home. People need to organise meetings for work, or to hang around with friends to keep their social lives going somehow. Skype has been loosing ground, more precisely users, steadily for nearly a decade now. Microsoft has been too undecided in its strategies with the ancestors of all VOIPs applications since they acquired it. Skype could have been a joker in a technology and market game. Perhaps its owners should have trained their nerves and skills at, to learn how to face an aggressive a dynamic scene like the new virtual world, where agile young startups can elbow out the mammoth multinationals.

Microsoft stated in 2015 that Skype had 300 million active monthly users, while up to February 2020 the number had fallen to some 23 million per month. In March the usage shot up to 40 million people, up 70 percent month-over-month. At the same time, Zoom ran into a swathe of security issues, from allegations it was passing on users’ data to Facebook and Google, to the raids of hackers who have been “Zoombombing” private video meetings.

A window of opportunity for Skype?

Definitely. And here comes Meet Now. No downloads, no installations, you do not even need a Skype account (unless you already have one, obviously). Just hop on Skype’s website, click to get a link, share it to your colleagues and/or friends, and you are set to go. The link will either open Skype for you, if you have it installed on your PC or mobile, or let you use a browser to open the web version of the videoconferencing. One limitation: it does not work on Firefox, you need either Chrome or Edge.

And this is what Microsoft is letting you do in a Meet Now meeting with Skype:
A – Open recent chats.
B – View participants currently in the call.
C – Share the Meet Now link.
D – Start recording the call.
E – Mute or unmute the microphone.
F – Turn video on or off.
G – End the call.
H – Open the conversation.
I – Share the screen.
J – Send a reaction to the call.
K – View More options.

There are some strong advantages, when comparing to Zoom. Like for example recording. Let’s say you have some important business meeting on your schedule. A simple click to record the whole proceedings, an instant production of the video of the whole thing, which can be easily downloaded and archived, is definitely a powerful feature. Then there is no 40-minute limitation, like in the Zoom free version.

What about the maximum number of simultaneously connected users? In theory, it should be 50, though some users who have started testing it out report that the real threshold is 30. In a few weeks bugs will be probably reported and Microsoft put to the test to fix them. The battle between Zoom and Skype has only just begun.